Happy Birthday Bow, I Hope You Get A Really Nice Crop Top
Here I am, once again celebrating the birthdays of fictional characters from my favourite gay cartoon. Your girl cannot be stopped, and given I’ve already written one article I might as well turn it into a series. Catra has gone to therapy and is having a well deserved nap, so it’s time to stan our favourite bisexual crop-top rocking archer with a love for inventions and intimacy.
Bow is the glue that holds together the Best Friend Squad in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. He’s a smart, considered voice of reason who makes it clear when his friends step out of line or do something that might endanger all of them. He is forever tinkering away with new inventions and arrows, escaping a world of unfair expectations to be with his companions and fight for a cause he truly believes in.
Like all the characters in ND Stevenson’s adaptation of the classic property, Bow is an infinitely more layered personality with a cohesive arc and motivations that make him so easy to root for. Granted he isn’t afforded the same level of attention in the narrative as Catra, Adora, or even Glimmer – but each and every episode provides a robust picture of whom this person is and why so many fans have fallen in love with him.
When we first meet Bow it can be easy to label him as a brain box that the rest of our characters turn to when there’s a technical problem, or they need to push the narrative forward by making a sudden discovery. That absolutely does happen, but all of these moments align with his personality and come to showcase a utility in situations where everyone else is kinda useless. Glimmer is dealing with the weight of an entire kingdom while Adora can transform into a buff lady who can kick the crap out of anything.
Among them, I think Bow might be the only brain cell, and that makes him invaluable. He isn’t born with powers or blessed with a greater destiny, but instead learned to fight by studying and putting himself through hardships that few in the rebellion are brave enough to endure. Yet he never lets this part of his identity hold him back, if anything it encourages him to do even more to prove himself. All while wearing an absolute killer outfit adorned with hearts.
Reunion is the episode where his past is finally unveiled. Before we never really knew where Bow came from. He is besties with Glimmer and wants to defeat The Horde, that is literally the only background we have. That is, until we meet his overbearing dads. George and Lance are an adorable pair of dorks and so much like their son, filled with well-meaning love and oodles of intelligence and admiration for the world they grew up in. However, like many of our parents in the real world, stifles our true identity without ever quite realising it.
They believe Bow is studying at boarding school to become a historian, and will take over the family business when the time comes. He even wears a jumper that covers his precious mid-riff, with the episode unafraid to showcase the parallels between Bow’s situation and the suppression of queer identity with friends and family so many young people tend to face. It can feel easier to hide in front of people you love, afraid that you’ll let them down or secretly want to be something that doesn’t align with their narrow expectations. A lot of families don’t approve of such things, and She-Ra explores the heartbreaking nuance of sheltering a part of yourself that is simply begging to break free. For Bow, it relates to his future aspirations for himself and all of Etheria, which is enough to make him feel ashamed.
To see him welcome his true self, mid-riff and all, and how much happier that makes him as a person is so liberating to witness, and how his parents aren’t annoyed because of who he is or what he wants to achieve, but that he felt scared enough to hide something like that from them in the first place. She-Ra is filled with moments of character growth like this, unafraid to teach valuable lessons and trust the viewer with subject matter that few shows catered to this demographic would dare broach upon. Bow is just the start, even if this episode might be the brightest spotlight he is afforded throughout the entire narrative.
We also see him fall in love with Glimmer, crush on Seahawk, and prove himself as a capable warrior and inventor – but it’s this solitary moment of self acceptance that helps cement him as such a memorable character. Happy Birthday, Bow. Please try and stop your friends from getting themselves killed, eat some amazing food, and buy a new crop top.
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